I have three children, which means that I am in the car a lot.
Traveling to and from school, parties, and various activities — all far from home. During these long car trips, if I'm not in the driver's seat, I like to have something to do with my hands.
My entire adult life I have toted projects along with me to do while I wait — something to knit or fringe to finish on a handwoven piece. There's usually a basket full of projects stashed in the trunk of my car, next to the couch, even beside my favorite chair at the kitchen table. It's always been easy to grab a few things and put them in a bag, but when I decided to start carrying around mending projects, my casual stash-and-go approach wasn't quite good enough. Pins, needles, various threads, and my favorite snips were all too small and pokey to carry safely.
So began my search for the ideal, portable mending kit.
My mother often travels to Finland, bringing back many treasures. Hand-knit socks, Iitala glassware, and these beautiful Shaker-style boxes that she uses to stash various things around the house. Remembering these boxes, my wheels started to turn. I asked my mother who else in my family had them and might anyone have one to spare? Turns out several family members did, but none were willing to part with them, understandably! But at least I had a lead on what they were: Vakka boxes handcrafted by Bo-Åke Ljungars.
I found a set of three sizes abroad and purchased them for my studio. They were as gorgeous as I remembered and as useful as I could have dreamed.
Instead of hauling around my big bulky sewing box, I quickly realized I could grab the medium Vakka box, throw in some threads, pins, Sashiko needles, my favorite snips, my favorite seam ripper, a bunch of hang tags, some labels, and be on my way. I'd found my portable mending kit.
The box comes with me everywhere now. It holds all those tiny little odds and ends securely, stays closed, and fits more than seems possible, all while remaining aesthetically pleasing and at home wherever I place it.
Each Vakka box is handmade in Malax, Finland by Bo-Åke Ljunders from black alder, fastened together with birch roots, and lightly coated with linseed oil. They're beautifully crafted, multi-purpose, and even food safe. (Unsurprisingly, they have a bit of a cult following in Japan.)
On top of all that, it's a perfect example of a circular, natural object. They will last for years and when their usefulness is finally spent, easily return to soil.
I am so pleased to now be offering these beautiful boxes here in the U.S. — in three sizes. You can find them in the shop!
I hope you love them as much as my family and I do.